WISCONSIN RAPIDS – It took a little more than 10 minutes and the Assumption girls basketball team’s pressure defense was back in full swing.
The Royals forced 24 turnovers and cruised to a 65-24 victory over Columbus Classic Friday afternoon at the 29th Cranberry Classic at Assumption High School.
The Dons played with the Royals for the first quarter, but as the second quarter progressed, Assumption’s defense took its toll.
Assumption forced 24 turnovers and had just 11 in a game that saw the new 40-point running clock rule set in motion.
“At our school there is no way to simulate their defense in practice, so we do pressure drills where we put six girls on three to try and prepare for their press,” Columbus Catholic coach Bryan DeVries said. “They’re relentless and stay on you for 32 minutes. They’re big, strong and physical and they’re the state champs for a reason.”
Assumption, which lost only one starter from the championship team, had eight different girls score and committed only 11 turnovers.
After more than two weeks of practice, the Royals were anxious to face off against someone other than themselves.
“It was nice, because it can be frustrating playing against your friends because you don’t want to take your frustrations out on them because you see them every day,” said Assumption sophomore Gena Grundhoffer, who scored a game-high 19 points. “It was fun to play another team and be able to go hard against someone you won’t see the next day.”
The girls also know that with last year’s championship comes the burden or challenge of getting every opponents’ best game.
“We won last year, but that’s the past and this is a new season,” Assumption senior Jane Newman said. “We know we have a target on us, but we’re working hard to reach our goal this year and that’s to get back there again.”
Assumption coach Joe Birkhauser was pleased with the effort of the first game and was happy his girls were able to get the season underway.
“Our practices are designed to be tough and they were mixing it up with each other for two weeks and they were excited to mix it up with someone else,” Birkhauser said. “The girls always look forward to the Cranberry Classic, but they were really excited to play a game after just practicing for two weeks.”
Eight different players scored for Assumption and five for Columbus, with the scoring leader being Abby Baierl with eight points.
“Assumption just wears you down, but we played this game with the idea that it will makes us better as the season progresses,” DeVries said.
Leading scorers: Columbus, Alexandra Hutchinson 2, Alisha Reigel 5, Jessica Trad 5, Abby Baierl 8, Hannah Kruse 4; Assumption, Jenny Wanta 2, Autumn Linzmeier 2, Mary Sigerl 13, Macie Zurfluh 7, Gena Grundhoffer 19, Brittney Birkhauser 7, Jane Newman 7, Olivia Skibba 8. Free throws: Columbus 9-11; Assumption 4-10. 3-pointers: Columbus 1-3 (Reigel); Assumption 1-3 (Sigler).
Records: Assumption 1-0 overall; Columbus Catholic 1-1 overall.
Nekoosa 58, Pittsville 30
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Lexi Brost scored 20 points to lead the Papermakers.
Leading scorers: Pittsville, Miranda Ortner 2, Jenna Hughes 5, Sarah Schmitz 9, Carly Solatycki 6, Laura Ewer 8; Nekoosa, Lexi Brost 20, Desirae Schuh 16, Taylor Haiselmaier 11, Rachel Coyer 4, Anna Schubert 7. Free throws: Pittsville 13-21; Nekoosa 13-25. 3-pointers: Pittsville 1 (Hughes); Nekoosa 3 (Schuh 3).
Records: Nekoosa 1-1; Pittsville 0-1.